Clay Walker: ‘I Still Feel Like I Got a Hell of a Lot to Say’
"Easy Goin'" is Clay Walker's new song, not his approach to making and promoting country music in 2020.
The singer turned 50 last August, but you'd be hard pressed to find signs of aging beyond some gray hair and a passion for golf. His 6-year-old son Elijah padded up to him in the middle of his conversation with Taste of Country (no signs of 2-year-old Ezra), and he confessed to pouring himself into playlists steered by younger contemporaries like Luke Combs and Kane Brown. Sure, he'll turn on a great '90s playlist at times, but not to wax nostalgic. Walker is looking for similarities, and he's found quite a few that left him optimistic about the future of country music.
“All of the great ones stay focused on the hook, what the actual meat of the song is about and they don’t get out of that landscape," he says, referring to all the great songwriters. "And that is pleasing to know that that has not changed even though the elements of production are variably different.”
"Easy Goin'" is the first sample of Walker's 11th studio album, the follow-up to last year's Long Live the Cowboy. Paul Sikes (Matt Stell, Jimmie Allen) and Adam Wheeler (Tenille Arts) helped him shape the smooth Texas melody around a story of a woman who's given up on one man's love, no drama added. The title has a double meaning, as she's both easy going in character, but she also had no trouble leaving.
“There’s just a handful of girls that I think about when I write songs," Walker says. "They were experiences that I had — some of them I was wrong, and every now and then she was wrong. But I finally got it right, and that’s something that feels great.”
The perspective of getting it right (see wife Jessica) allows a man to see where he got it wrong, Walker says. It's one of the reasons he feels confident as a singer and songwriter today, perhaps as confident as ever.
“I still feel like I got a hell of a lot to say to the country music audience, and I want to do that from every avenue,” he says during a phone call from his home in Nashville. “I wanna win. I think my voice is probably better than it's ever been, so I want to sing as much as I can, because that doesn’t last forever. I want to write because I can say it better than I’ve ever been able to say it.”
Walker's career has spanned three decades and included six No. 1 Billboard Country Airplay hits ("Rumor Has It," "If I Could Make a Living" and more) among 17 Top 10 singles. That resume isn't his advantage, but he'll say the experiences that built it are. Plus it helps to have a few old friends along the way. Wheeler, his co-writer on "Easy Goin,'" is better known for writing "A Few Questions," the title-track of Walker's 2003 album, just released digitally.
"I don’t even think we had to say it," he says, going back to the songwriting room. "They knew that for me to record a song that was going to go on the radio ... that there was going to have to be a blend of who I am. And they nailed that."
There is no release date for Walker's next album. Like all artists, his 2020 tour is indefinitely postponed, but he does have dates scheduled at well-known festivals in the U.S. and Canada throughout the summer.
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